Wednesday, August 31, 2022

DRIBBLINGS...

I’ve decided that I need to revive my random thoughts segment. There’s so much going on and sometimes just a random thought about a subject is fitting. Y’all might remember how this works. Every so often a thought will cross my mind but never quite make it into a full-blown post. I call them DRIBBLINGS, just haphazard, trivial stuff that passes through my thoughts. And so, I DRIBBLE!


A father in Louisville boarded a public-school bus to verbally assault a child. (Video HERE.) He says it was out of character for him, but that his daughter has been bullied and because the school has taken no action, he’d been pushed to his limits when allegedly his daughter was smacked by another little girl. NO! In fact, HELL NO! I’m not buying that bullshit. He showed his true colors. No grown ass man would even consider calling a child a bitch and think that’s okay. No father of a daughter would be okay doing this unless he has absolutely no respect for women in general. He called that little girl out of her name with his whole chest, and I shudder to think what he would have done had the bus driver not been holding him back. The video showed his daughter trying to climb over the seat to continue to escalate the problem. Personally, I didn’t get victim vibes, unless she got a shot of courage because daddy was there. Clearly though, he’s not the role model any little girl needs to fully understand her self-worth as she journeys to womanhood. Either way, he was wrong, and no one should be okay with his behavior.

 


Words are my superpower. Point of view is my kryptonite.

 

At the beginning of his quest for the presidency, Donald Trump stated he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and no one would care. A lot has happened since then that would seem to validate that statement. I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, would make the GOP pull their support of this one man and refocus on the needs of their constituents and the American people? Or are they, as an entire entity of political power determined to go down in flames if he leads them straight to hell?

 

We’ve blamed Covid. We’ve blamed presidents and political parties. We’ve blamed supply demands. We’ve pointed fingers at other countries and a war we’re financing but not supporting. Every ill from rising gas prices to the economic crisis across the nation has been blamed on something. At what point do we place the blame on the greed and selfishness of people who have no compassion for their fellow man? When do we call out blatantly bad behavior and actions meant to defraud most and prosper only a few? Where shelves are stocked, why haven’t prices begun to drop? Because someone is profiting personally, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of us. So when will we lay the blame there?

 

My cognitive empathy has become a liability. I cry at commercials. Life can become overwhelming too quickly. My emotional empathy is on overload, fueling somatic empathy that has my entire body reeling. To shut it down, I need to shut it off. If I shut off my emotions, I can’t write. And I need to write. I feel like I’m caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

 


Old people are determined to take their dirt to their graves. The deeds done in their youth could potentially come back to haunt generations that follow behind them. But I get it. I’ve done some things I pray daily will never see the light of day. And I hope if it ever does, I’m long gone, and my descendants can forgive me. There’s a story here. Maybe, one day, I’ll let myself write it. Then again, maybe I already have?

 

 

Monday, August 15, 2022

DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF: FARRAH ROCHON


USA Today Bestselling author Farrah Rochon has been on my bookshelf since her New York Sabers series. It was one of the first romance series that made me doubt my own writing. Because Farrah Rochon can tell a story like no one’s business. She’s also one of those authors who is on point with every detail surrounding her books. From the creative idea to publication and marketing she doesn’t miss a single beat. Her writing is her business and I’ve learned much from her. Farrah has taken plotting a story to a level that still mystifies me. I was not a student who passed her class and I’ve taken her plotting workshop a few times. She is that good and I still don’t come close!

Farrah has been such an inspiration. She continually challenges all of us in this literary game to write better, promote smarter, and put only our very best on the table. She sets a higher standard with each and every book she writes, pulling us up and over that bar along with her. Those of us who admire her may go kicking and screaming but she hasn’t allowed us to fall once. She genuinely wants each and every one of us to win and that can be rare to find in a business where your success lasts only as long as it takes a reader to finish your last book.

Farrah’s list of literary nominations and awards is extensive. They reflect her love for her craft and a testament to her talent. Farrah is adored by all of us who know her, and it is truly a blessing to call her my friend.

I’m excited to celebrate Farrah’s most recent release, THE HOOKUIP PLAN. It’s the final story in The Boyfriend Project series. And what a ride this series has been! 

Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.

Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.

Yeah! This one’s good and you won’t be disappointed.

I’m also excited for her upcoming release,
ALMOST THERE:TWISTED TALE. If you follow Farrah, you know she is a big Disney fan. All that pink, cotton-candy, Mickey Mouse joy makes her heart sing. Now imagine her taking a Disney princess tale and giving it an alternate reality twist! How could this not be a must read! I’ve pre-ordered my copy and September 6th can’t get her fast enough. Don’t miss out on this one. Pre-order your copy NOW!

And if you’ve never read Farrah before, prepare yourself. She has an extensive backlist and every single title is romance gold. 

You’re welcome!

Friday, July 08, 2022

DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF: PIPER G. HUGULEY


Today’s Diva Spotlight is shining on historical fiction author Dr. Piper G. Huguley. If you’ve not read any of her books, you’re missing out. With amazing story-telling skills Huguley is able to take us back in time to bear witness to the untold stories of amazing African American Christian characters. She educates, enlightens, and allows her readers to escape into historical experiences that have been largely left out of traditional history books. Huguley is out here doing the Lord’s work with her stories, and I greatly appreciate her ministry.

I adore Piper Huguley. I'm blessed to call her a friend and a sister of my heart. I aspire to be just like her when I grow up. She is an educator by profession and has influenced many a young mind to excel at whatever they desire. She a woman of Southern gentility, her grace, patience, and serene spirit reflected in the words she paints on paper. She epitomizes the very essence of #BlackGirlMagic.

I was honored to share a book with her, a trilogy with our author-sister-friend Iris Bolling. SONGBIRD is an incredible book, and  Huguley’s contribution is reflective of all her writings. It’s better than great. Sharing the stage with this amazing woman was a privilege and an honor I don’t take lightly.

Huguley has an extensive and impressive back list of books, starting with her two-book HOME TO MILFORD COLLEGE series and her MIGRATIONS OF THE HEART series. She’s been included in numerous anthologies and is often sought out to share her historical perspective on black history.

An award-winning author, Piper Huguley’s most recent release, BY HER OWN DESIGN: A Novel of ANN LOWE, Fashion Designer to the Social Register, is making quite the buzz in literary circles. Well received, the reviews have been reflective of her talent and masterful story-telling abilities. BY HER OWN DESIGN is the incredible, untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America's most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy. I can personally attest to this book being one of the best of all times, although I might be slightly biased. But it is that remarkable and deserving of all the accolades.

Discover the work of Piper G. Huguley for yourself. You’ll be equally impressed!




Friday, July 01, 2022

DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF: VANESSA RILEY

Good morning! I'm so excited about this new series, DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF! Today, I’m thrilled to talk about the incomparable Vanessa Riley.

Vanessa Riley is one of the most prolific writers I know, and this is not my first-time sharing news of her books and upcoming releases. My last posts are HERE and HERE. I aspire to Vanessa’s level of creativity. I am always captivated by the sheer beauty of her words. She can take the 26 letters of the alphabet and string together stories that are transformative. I love me some Vanessa Riley!

Most recently I finished Island Queen, for the third time! Based on the incredible true-life story of Dorothy “Doll” Kirwan Thomas, a free Black woman who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. Vanessa Riley breathed life into each character and her portrayal of Doll’s staunch determination to rise above her circumstances and reign was absolutely riveting. This writer’s ability to evoke emotion knows no bounds and with each chapter, I found myself lost in the eighteenth-century world of sugar plantations, island marketplaces, and London drawing rooms. If you want a real treat, purchase the audio book, too, narrated by the British actress Adjoa Andoh, (Lady Danbury of Bridgerton fame).

I'm anxiously awaiting the July 12, 2022 release of Vanessa’s next novel, Sister Mother Warrior. 

 

It’s the vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti. I know that Vanessa Riley will transport us to a whole other world as she again, pulls us into history we’ve never before been told or had been denied.

But Vanessa's writing talents don't stop there. She will soon be taking us on a jaunt into historical mysteries with her upcoming book, Murder in Westminster, the first book in her new Lady Worthing Mystery series. The anticipation is giving me goose bumps! Adding each new book of hers to my collection is me snatching a tiny piece of literary heaven to include in my small book world!

If you’ve never read Vanessa Riley, you’re missing out. Do yourself a favor and journey through her backlist. You’ll thank me later.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF: BEVERLY JENKINS

Many have heard me tell the story of being a romance snob before I became a romance author. I did not read romance, believing those happily-ever-after stories were a waste of good ink on even better paper. Boy, did I get that one wrong! It was after the publication of my first romance book, when die-hard romance readers came for me, that I discovered my shortcomings. It seems I’d written a good book, but it failed the romance litmus test.

To write romance and write it well, I needed to figure out what I’d been missing. So, I began to read romance and discovered these incredible stories of love and life written by amazing women, and even a few good men. Some of these stories included characters who sometimes looked like me and sometimes didn’t. The joy I experienced was like nothing I’d known before. It surpassed my favorite chocolate cake and the occasional romp between my silk sheets. Well, maybe not the silk sheets, but definitely the cotton ones! But I digress.

Eventually, I got better at writing romance. Then I found myself shifting toward romantic suspense, and most recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of mystery. In each genre, I have found women who tell brilliant stories and who have generously shared so much of themselves with me. But I digress again, because this post isn’t about me. It’s about my love of reading and for those women writers who sweep me away with their brilliant writing!


During this exploratory phase I discovered the writings of Romance Queen, USA Today bestselling author, Beverly Jenkins! I dare to say that she’s able to don that literary crown and retains her seat on that romance throne because of her brilliant storytelling. Beverly Jenkins’ books have graced my bookshelf since that very first read. I had started with her first contemporary romances, Edge of Midnight and then Edge of Dawn. Since then, I've meandered my way through her Blessings series, and become totally engrossed with her historical romances after backtracking to the books Indigo and Vivid. Her historical romances were my sweet spot, filling a hole in my literary heart that I didn’t even know existed. I had no idea that she would later become a mentor and a friend. The romance genre became a blessing that has continued to give, and give, and give!

I devoured Jenkins’ last book, Wild Rain. It’s the second novel in her compelling new Women Who Dare series and follows Spring, a female rancher in Wyoming after the Civil War. A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met. But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love? You’ll need to read the book to find out for yourself.

Next up in the Women Who Dare series, is To Catch a Raven. It’s the story of a fearless grifter who goes undercover to reclaim the stolen Declaration of Independence. With a release date of August 23, 2022, you’ll want to pre-order your copy NOW! I know I have, because there’s not a Beverly Jenkins book that I foresee myself ever missing. All hail my romance queen! 


Lately, I’ve been feasting on historical romance and stories that bring our collective pasts to light. I love historical fiction and there are a few authors who’ve become automatic buys! Over the next few weeks, I plan to share how amazing these writers are, and what they’re bringing to the reading table that has moved me beyond words.

I haven’t blogged in some time and to now do so with a series that I plan to call, DIVAS ON MY BOOKSHELF feels like Christmas in Spring or that milestone birthday complete with unexpected surprises, great gifts, and the sweetest champagne. It’s a celebration of sorts and I hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me!

 

 

Monday, May 09, 2022

MOTHER'S DAY!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. For those who celebrate I pray that it was everything you wanted and needed the day to be.

Although I had a very pleasant day, it is always a bittersweet experience for me. Since birth, my sister and I have gone to church with our mother every Mother’s Day. Unless of course I was living out of the country on an island, or the sister was away in college. Yesterday, we came together with my granddaughter in tow to continue that tradition. The Pretty Princess and I rose early to make it in time for service at Morehead Avenue Baptist Church to get the word from mommy’s pastor, Reverend Charles C. Barnes, Sr. My mother was ecstatic and that brought me much joy. I don’t take it for granted that at her age, with her declining health, that we are immensely blessed to still have her here with us. Brunch followed. We laughed and reminisced and our time spent together was a breath of fresh air for my spirit.

For many, many years I have claimed six children. The ex-husband came with four, fathered the fifth with his mistress and we shared the youngest. Some who know me, believe they are all mine by birth, and I have never before felt it necessary to correct that assumption. They were mine and I loved all of them with every fiber of my being. I took them to school, cheered at all their extracurricular activities, wiped away tears and fussed when they did wrong. I was there during their formative years, the younger bunch from birth. I did what a mother did to the best of my ability and I was practically a child myself. More times than not I got it right, but those times when I made mistakes, I thought them monumental. Most mothers do.

When the divorce happened, the older kids were adults with families of their own. I know that their father smeared my name at every opportunity, but I was so hell bent on being free from his abuse that I didn’t care. I thought the bond I shared with them would be enough. They knew me. Knew my heart. Knew I loved them beyond measure, no matter what was said about me. That first Mother’s Day when I heard not one word from any of them, I was devastated. I sat in church with my own mother trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.

The second year didn’t hurt as much. By year five I’d become numb to it all. The one child I had birthed still wished me a good day and joined me and his grandmother at church. Then suddenly that went left. I became persona non grata. He told me he hated me and blamed me for everything that was wrong in his life. He turned on me, his wrath so vapid that it still has me reeling. I had to be reminded that it wasn’t personal, it was his mental illness. But it felt as personal as personal could ever get. It was pain in a way I have never experienced hurt before. I cried continuously when no one was watching. There were times I could barely breathe thinking about it, wondering if I would survive. It was unfathomable grief and through it all I kept smiling, kept saying I was fine, and hid it from others to the best of my ability.

Things have gotten better. The holiday is no longer as difficult to navigate as it was in years prior. I’ve learned not to great Mother’s Day with any expectations. Yesterday, I received two messages. The first was from my new bonus son, saying he loved me and appreciated me and wishing me the best day ever. The second came from my youngest, apologizing for not calling, but he wasn’t well. He hoped I had a good day. Both greetings made me happy.

Big Daddy and the Pretty Princess gave me a Mother’s Day parade. They showered me with affection and love and presented me with the sweetest cards and the most generous gifts. And then I sat in church with my mommy, feeling immensely blessed.

 

 

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

ISLAND QUEEN by Vanessa Riley

I love a great historical novel and ISLAND QUEEN by renowned author Vanessa Riley is one that should not be missed. And now it's on sale!!! Learn more here: https://bit.ly/IQsaleDV

Island Queen  is a remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true-life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful
landowners in the colonial West Indies. Accolades for the story and for the author have been sweeping!
 
“Richly detailed, vividly depicted, and sweeping in scope, Island Queen is historical fiction at its absolute finest. A stunning must-read!” — Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
 
“Island Queen is the magnificently reconstructed life story of Dorothy "Doll" Kirwan Thomas, whose fascinating legacy of grit and success desperately deserves to be better known. With lush prose and raw emotion, Riley vividly captures the complexity of bringing to life a time of rebellion and possibility.”    — New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Dray
 
“Reading Island Queen and I am riveted. RIVETED, I tell you! Whew! That woman can WRITE! What a book!”
   — Kristan Higgins, from Twitter

Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.
 
Vanessa Riley’s novel brings Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life: a restless shipping merchant, Joseph Thomas; a wealthy planter hiding a secret, John Coseveldt Cells; and a roguish naval captain who will later become King William IV of England.
 
From the bustling port cities of the West Indies to the forbidding drawing rooms of London’s elite, Island Queen is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds, defying rigid eighteenth-century morality and the oppression of women as well as people of color. It is an unforgettable portrait of a true larger-than-life woman who made her mark on history.

Buy a copy for you or a friend:  https://bit.ly/IQsaleDV